Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon

There are many reasons this album loomed large for years like the Kubrick monolith over the Billboard charts, and all those explanations suffice, but the biggest is its unfailing consistency. This album radiates quality from every rainbow-tinged and inky black atom, and every member did his part, whether it was Roger Waters' restrained lyrics, David Gilmour's scintillating guitar, Richard Wright's VCS-3 soundscapes or even a rare solo credit for Nick Mason. The songs vary in style but not in theme and flow perfectly from one track to the next, aided greatly by Alan Parsons' unerring engineering and a startling world-building array of overlaid sounds. Heartbeats and helicopters? Check. Inscrutable quotes? Check. Coins and cash registers in 7/4 time? Check and double check. The technique reinforces the music; the music reinforces the concept; the concept reinforces the experience. Rarely are there true artistic unities in pop music, even when pop music was more explicitly artistic, but this album is indisputably one of them. Notwithstanding various later local maxima you might even say they would never eclipse it. Recurrently reissued and remastered, the postcards in the 20th Anniversary version were fun but to my ear James Guthrie's mix for the 30th is the superior release. (Content: a muffled F-bomb in "Speak to Me" and a single S-bomb in "Money.")